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Cheney's office denies he's in Iraq

Written by: Staff
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BAGHDAD, Nov 23 (Reuters) US Vice President Dick Cheney's office today denied reports he was in Iraq for a previously unannounced visit to celebrate the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday with US troops.

Iraqi state television and several other Arabic news channels reported his arrival, but the US embassy could not confirm it.

A spokeswoman for Cheney, Megan McGinn, told Reuters in Washington: ''That is not true. He is not there now.'' Asked if he had plans to travel there later today, she said: ''Not to my knowledge''.

Asked whether Cheney was in Baghdad or anywhere else in Iraq, the US military said it was ''unaware of any information of the vice president being in Baghdad''.

When US President George W. Bush visited US troops for thanksgiving in 2003, journalists travelling with him were not allowed to report the visit until Bush had already left Iraq.

Cheney's office said yesterday the vice president would travel to Saudi Arabia yesterday for talks with King Abdullah.

The meeting comes as the White House weighs a shift in strategy on Iraq.

Cheney is seen as a key architect of the US invasion of Iraq, along with former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld who resigned after Republicans were defeated in mid-term Congressional elections this month.

REUTERS AB VC1720

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